David Brooks opines on leadership from time to time, and thus we fell upon one of his essays on recharging your leadership battery. Brooks' essay is specifically pointed at public sector leaders, and to be sure, there are many project managers and program executives in the public sector, but the points made work in any domain.
Brooks suggests three things you can do to revive any sagging motivation to push through and get things done:
- Apprentice yourself to a master craftsman
- Get real again; go off and become a stranger in a strange land [domain]
- Close off your options so as to not be "master of none"
No one who is a professional in this game stops learning; there's always someone better or someone who has a better way of doing it. So, seek out the master craftsman; the person who has an exquisite grip on the job, and learn from the best. And, if you're the craftsman, take on a protege... you still might learn something
Break the mold; be a rebel. Do something different, but do it differently in a different domain. Brooks makes the point that when you return, you'll see things all differently through the prism of a wider experience.
You could, for example, go over to the dark side and leave public service to become a contractor. Or, almost as hard: leave the regulated government contractor business and go into back-office IT..... talk about a domain change!
The conventional advice is "keep your options open", be nimble, and ready to change direction or capture an opportunity at the drop of the hat.
But, then there's the paralysis of analysis. "Open" is often the antithesis of commitment, and a lack of commitment is not that hard to detect by others looking for your commitment. But managers today want you "all in", fully committed, and accountable. You can't do that if you don't close something off.
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